This slice of alpine Austria is a food-lover's dream – with award-winning chefs, the freshest ingredients, and jaw-dropping restaurant views. Pack your appetite...
Spend the day with a cheesemaker
Over 9,400 tons of cheese are made in Vorarlberg
every year – from world famous Emmentaler and Nussknacker to regional specialities like Weinkäse (which is matured in red wine for three months). The local cheesemakers produce over 40 different varieties – so you should make it your mission to try as many as possible. Alpe Rona (Nico Herzog, Oesterreich Werbung, Alpenregion Bludenz Tourismus)
Happily, many of the dairy farms and cheesemakers offer guided tours, with tasting sessions to show off their wares. Alpe Rona
is a flavoursome starting point: on the Tschengla high plateau above Bürserberg it offers an interesting tour, delicious cheeses and fantastic views from its 1,250-metre altitude.
Feast in the wild
In Vorarlberg, every meal is memorable – but the chefs of Bregenzerwald
are taking adventurous dining to the next level. Feasting in the Bregenzerwald
is a mini food festival, which sees the best local chefs showcase their innovative take on classic Vorarlberg dishes – with an outdoorsy twist. The five-course meals are served up al fresco, in wild and beautiful surrounds, to groups of up to 40 diners. Feasting in the Bregenzerwald (Ludwig Berchtold, Bregenzerwald Tourismus)
Each of the meals are themed around local specialities: you'll be served decadent cheeses, just-plucked herbs, pole-caught fish and organic chicken – with wine to match every dish. There's entertainment, too: music, readings and chefs' tales with keep you enthralled between courses. Prices from €75.
Hike between meals
The mountainous landscapes of Vorarlberg lend themselves to an indulgent foodie break: you'll work up appetites by scaling its beautiful peaks, and you'll always be able to justify that extra piece of cheese. Bregenzerwald Tourismus has caught on: sign up for a Culinary Hike
and you'll enjoy a full day of strolling and scoffing – a 'food crawl' to the best local restaurants and mountain inns, with guided rambles between dishes. Culinary hikes (Adolf Bereuter, Bregenzerwald Tourismus)
The day includes up to 5 hours of alpine walking, but you'll be fully fuelled by local specialities like käsknöpfle (cheesy pasta) and apfelküchle (apple doughnuts). Delicious.
Make your own cheese
Not satisfied with watching award-winning cheesemakers at work? Try your hand at making your own cream cheese at the Alpine Dairy School in Egg. Want more than just a nibble of käse with dinner? Visit a 'cheese restaurant' which boasts a whole menu of cheesy delicacies. Vorarlberg really is the place to indulge all of your dairy fantasies. Cheese tasting (Michael Gunz, Vorarlberg Tourismus)
You might hear the locals talk about KäseStrasse
(Cheese Street). It's a union of local cheesemakers and dairy experts, who've joined forces with discerning restaurants and shops.
Seek out traditional tastes
you'll find a crop of cosy restaurants and mountain lodges. They serve proper mountain food: all slow-cooked stews, big grills and hearty roasts. A selection of restaurants are even part of the 'MundArt' movement
, a project to showcase Bregenzerwald's culinary ambition and expansive hospitality. Hotel Gasthof, Krone Hittisau (Christoph Lingg, Bregenzerwald Tourismus)
MundArt is all about atmosphere, too. Think authentic alpine spots, tucked away in the upper reaches of the mountains or nestled in picturesque valleys. Key eateries include Gasthof Adler and the Hotel Gasthof Hirschen in Schwarzenberg; Gams, Genießer- und Kuschelhotel and the Hotel Post in Bezau; Hotel Gasthof Krone and the Hotel Das Schiff in Hittisau; s’Schulhus restaurant in Krumbach; and Hotel Krone in Au. You'll find the full list here
Gorge on gourmet bites
You might have heard of the Gault & Millau guide – and on your first visit to Lech Zürs am Arlberg
you certainly will. This quaint alpine village boasts the highest concentration of Gault & Millau-approved establishments in the world, making it an absolute playground for foodies. Indeed, it was awarded the title of 'World Gourmet Village' in 2008. Gourmetdorf Lech Zuers (Christian Rescher, Lech Zuers Tourismus)
Perhaps Lech Zürs am Arlberg's culinary success lies in its taste for the traditional. With the annual Lech Village Festival
and annual Mountain Festivals
, the village's Walser heritage lives on – in its culture, entertainment and food.
Sample a selection of chefs
, sustainable ingredients aren't measured in 'food miles' – it's more like food metres, given the wealth of natural produce on the doorstep. Farm-fresh cheeses, a rainbow of vegetables, fine organic beef... it's little wonder that this picturesque region has such hearty, nourishing food – and such a crop of talented chefs. Gourmet Experience Brandnertal (Oliver Lerch, Alpenregion Bludenz Tourismus) Gourmet Experience Brandnertal
brings together foodies from far and wide, to celebrate the local culinary bounty. On just five dates throughout the year, five different local chefs serve up specially-designed menus of traditional and modern creations. The focus is on local, seasonal fare, and prices start from just €47. Tickets are limited, but the culinary opportunities are endless. This article is supported by the Vorarlberg Tourist Board, but it is impartial and independent – just like all Wanderlust editorial
Main image: Koeche Speisen Bregenzerwald (Ludwig Berchtold, Bregenzerwald Tourismus)